Tax Break

Reduce your property taxes

Posted on Feb 14, 2018

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, deductions of state, local and property taxes are not worth as much as they used to be. Beginning in 2018, taxpayers are limited to a total of $10,000 in combined state income, sales and property taxes as an itemized deduction. One way you can try to adapt is by lowering your property tax bill. Believe it or not, there is a way. Why you may need a property tax reassessment Property taxes are the revenue lifeblood of cities, counties, school districts and states, and they fluctuate along with house prices. Because local governments are eager to collect more tax revenue, they are quick to get property values assessed higher when times are good. But they aren’t as quick to get values lowered again when the economy falters. As a result, over time your property value tends to creep up without downward corrections. When added to increased property tax rates, your bill today can be much higher than in the past. What you can do about it If you dread the annual letter informing you that your property tax is going to go up again, one thing you can try is to approach your local assessor and ask for a property revaluation. Here are some ideas to successfully reduce your home’s appraised value: Understand process and due dates. Do some homework to understand the approved process to get your property revalued. It is typically outlined on your property tax statement. Understand the deadlines and adhere to them. Assess your property. Do some homework before you call your assessor. Talk to neighbors and honestly assess the amount of disrepair your property may be in versus other comparable properties in your neighborhood. Call a few real estate professionals. Tell them you would like a market review of your property. Try to choose a professional that will not overstate the value of your home hoping to get a listing, but will show you comparable sales for your area. Check the classification. Look at your property classification in the detailed description of your home. Oftentimes errors in this code can overstate the value of your home. For instance, if you live in a condo that was converted from an apartment, the property value could still be based on a non-owner occupied rental basis. Understand first, then clarify your position. Armed with the information you’ve collected, approach the assessor seeking first to understand the basis of their appraisal. Then position your request for a review based on the facts. Do not fall into the trap of defending your review request without first having all the information on your property. Estimate a reasonable value. Suggest a reasonable valuation to the assessor. Assessors are so used to irrational arguments, that they may readily accept a reasonable approach. Get an appraisal, if necessary. If all else fails and you still believe your home is overvalued, consider spending the money for an independent appraisal. This option could be expensive, but can provide a fairly decent defense of your position. You should be able to recoup the cost of the appraisal with many years of lower property taxes. While going through this process, remember to be aware of the pressure that these local tax authorities are under to raise revenue. This understanding can help temper your position and hopefully put you in a better position to have your case heard. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Review your withholdings

Posted on Feb 9, 2018

The IRS recently announced new withholding guidelines for all employers and payroll companies. Employers are expected to update your paycheck on or before Feb. 15. That means you’ll need to review the amount withheld from your paycheck. Why? Because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered tax rates, increased standard deductions and eliminated personal exemptions. Many employees should see an increase in their paychecks. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Your new life as a pass-through entity owner

Posted on Feb 7, 2018

If you are a small business owner, your planning probably got a lot trickier after the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). That’s because most small businesses have legal structures that are treated as pass-through entities for tax purposes, meaning they “pass-through” income to the owners or investors, which they record on their Form 1040 individual tax returns. These entities include S corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships. On one hand, these kinds of businesses will benefit from the TCJA’s 20 percent reduction to the taxation of business income. On the other, the rules used to determine how much of that reduction each business gets are complex. Here are some tips to help find out where your business falls in the new structure: Know your business’s QBI QBI stands for “qualified business income,” which is generally your business net income other than income in the way of compensation. QBI is the basic figure you need to determine how much of the 20 percent reduction you get. It excludes business losses, as well as factoring in amortization and capitalized expenditures. QBI is determined separately for each business activity, not per taxpayer. The first simple threshold rule is: If your taxable income is less than $157,500 as an individual filer, or $315,000 as a married couple filing jointly, you can take the full 20 percent deduction from your QBI. If your taxable income is higher than those levels, several other factors come into play. Buckle up and hold on, here is where it gets complex: Know whether your profession matters Several “specified service professions” are treated differently under the new rules. The list includes health, law consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, accounting firms or “any trade or business where the principal asset … is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners.” If your business is in one of these professional areas, the 20 percent reduction to your QBI starts to phase out to zero once your taxable income passes $157,500 as an individual filer or $315,000 as a married joint filer. The phaseout range before the reduction reaches zero is $50,000 for individual filers and $100,000 for married filers. The phaseout range also determines how much of the next factor matters: Know whether wage and capital limits matter Once you go above the threshold, special wage and capital limits start to reduce your deduction. The formula for calculating the wage and capital limits is based on the greater of 50 percent of the W-2 wages paid by your business, OR 25 percent of the W-2 wages, plus 2.5 percent of the unadjusted basis of all qualified property acquired by your business over the year. These wage and capital limits are phased in over the threshold and apply in full after passing the $50,000 range for individual filers or $100,000 for married filers. Bottom line: Get help As you can see, the 20 percent pass-through reduction can be a great benefit, but taking it can get complex very quickly. If you are a small business owner, don’t try to do it yourself. The new rules apply for the 2018 tax year, so after you’ve wrapped up 2017 taxes under the old rules, contact us for a consultation to determine how to position your business under the new laws. In the meantime, please be patient. The IRS has yet to publish guidance on the new rules. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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The best way to avoid an audit: Preparation

Posted on Jan 24, 2018

Getting audited by the IRS is no fun. Some taxpayers are selected for random audits every year, but the chances of that happening to you are very small. You are much more likely to fall under the IRS’s gaze if you make one of several common mistakes. That means your best chance of avoiding an audit is by doing things right before you file your return this year. Here are some suggestions: Don’t leave anything out. Missing or incomplete information on your return will trigger an audit letter automatically, since the IRS gets copies of the same tax forms (such as W-2s and 1099s) that you do. Double-check your numbers. Bad math will get you audited. People often make calculation errors when they do their returns, especially if they do them without assistance. In 2016, the IRS sent out more than 1.6 million examination letters correcting math errors. The most frequent errors occurred in people’s calculation of their amount of tax due, as well as the number of exemptions and deductions they claimed. Don’t stand out. The IRS takes a closer look at business expenses, charitable donations and high-value itemized deductions. IRS computers reference statistical data on which amounts of these items are typical for various professions and income levels. If what you are claiming is significantly different from what is typical, it may be flagged for review. Have your documentation in order. Keep your records in order by being meticulous about your recordkeeping. Items that will support the tax breaks you take include: cancelled checks, receipts, credit card and investment statements, logs for mileage and business meals, and proof of charitable donations. With proper documentation, a correspondence letter from the IRS inquiring about a particular deduction can be quickly resolved before it turns into a full-blown audit. Remember, the average person has a less than 1 percent chance of being audited. If you prepare now, you can narrow your audit chances even further and rest easy after you’ve filed. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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First-quarter interest rates remain the same

Posted on Jan 22, 2018

Interest rates for the first quarter in 2018 have not changed since last quarter. Those rates include: 4 percent for overpayments (3 percent for corporations), 1.5 percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment over $10,000, 4 percent for underpayments and 6 percent for large corporation underpayments. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Business owners: Forms due Jan. 31

Posted on Jan 19, 2018

Don’t forget that Jan. 31 is an important due date if you own a business, or have a side business in addition to your regular job. Avoid fines by making sure Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC are postmarked or sent electronically by this date to the IRS as well to the people you did business with in 2017. Remember, you may face separate fines for each late form. The Jan. 31 deadline for these forms was unified as part of the IRS’s larger effort to minimize refund fraud. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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